MURRAY, Ky. — Students in the clarinet studio within the Murray State University Department of Music recently took part in an online masterclass exchange between Murray State’s Dr. Amy McCann and Dr. John Weigand at West Virginia University.
McCann contacted Weigand, her former clarinet teacher, about the possibility of exchanging a studio masterclass online to help students prepare for final jury recordings. The professors agreed to swap four students each for one-on-one lessons for one week.
“This idea came while scrolling through Facebook looking at all the pictures of conducting classes on Zoom hosting guest speakers,” McCann said. “A lot of my conductor friends are inviting other conductors and composers to their classes to offer the students a fresh face and a new perspective. So I wondered, what’s stopping us from doing something similar in a distance learning situation?”
While the students miss many aspects of being a music major on campus, such as playing in ensembles and watching live performances, they believe their area of study has provided certain benefits and comforts to them and others during the pandemic.
“My lesson with Dr. Weigand was refreshing,” said Nic Hawkins, a music education major from Paris, Tennessee. “When I emailed him, I was surprised at how he ran the online lesson, which was different from Dr. McCann, but the feedback he gave me was great and fresh. I thought we made a lot of progress, and I really appreciated Dr. McCann and Dr. Weigand taking advantage of the situation to make this possible.”
“My lesson with Dr. Wiegand was amazing,” added Sabrina Wheatley, a music education major from Hancock County, Kentucky. “Having a different set of ears and ways to explain what to improve on is really helpful in learning the lesson’s piece. I also learned that I need to pull outside information on the composer to help influence the style and interpretation of the piece.”
McCann said she believes the masterclass exchange is one of several activities she plans to incorporate into future courses.
“Regardless of what happens in the fall in terms of face-to-face or continued distance learning, the Murray State clarinet studio may be experimenting with partnerships with other collegiate clarinetists from universities around the country,” said McCann. “I can’t wait to watch them discover new people, places and especially ideas.”